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Tim looks to take ‘step up’ in new role

Tim looks to take ‘step up’ in new role
Tim Watt is heading into his third season on Geoff Clark’s dairy farm at Hokonui. Photos show cows grazing

Tim Watt has enjoyed his two seasons on a farm owned by Geoff Clark, at Hokonui, 15 minutes Winton.

His production figures tell you how positive that experience has been. In the 2015-16 season the farm produced seven per cent more than in the season before, and last season it was up another 14%.

Tim says a reduction in the impact of clover weevil has made a significant contribution towards this growth.

The farm has an effective milking platform of 320 hectares, and 845 cows were peakmilked last season. While the ideal would be to winter the herd on farm, that is currently not possible in terms of meeting nutritional needs.

So, 200 cows are walked down the road to the run-off a few kilometres away.

Tim says Geoff Clark is excellent to work with and leaves him free to attend to the main dairy farm. They catch up a couple of times a week, and communication is massive, says Tim.

“It’s widely known that Geoff has a track-record for the best staff retention of any farm in this district.

He does all the winter-crop management, leaving me free to run the farm from the dairy shed – I firmly believe that’s the best place to manage a farm from.”

The farm employs two full-time staff and has a relief milker available to help at peak times.

The engine-house in terms of supplementing nutrition is the 100 tonnes of palm kernel supplied to the milking herd over the season.

Milk is produced out of what Tim terms a “really good” 54-bail rotary, using Waikato equipment.

“Everything works really well, with Protrack and automatic cup removers. When the farm converted eight years ago, the process was done really thoroughly.”

In the 2014-15 season new heat-detecting technology was tested, and Tim was happy with the results. The farm ‘s in-calf rate was 73 per cent last season.

THis season Tim’s brother is coming onto the farm, which presents Tim with the opportunity for Tim to move to contract milking.

“It means a step up in terms of employing the staff, being responsible for upkeep of some of the equipment, and for all the cleaning products.

My costs will be in the order of $170,000, so I have got this farm to cover myself.

After that, the plan will be on to 50:50 sharemilking 600 cows.” Outside the farm, his big passion is rugby.

He’s a representative player, wearing the No. 8 jersey. He wants to continue his involvement in top-level play, and he says Geoff Clark’s “really positive support” has been pivotal to on the manager’s role.

Tim looks to take ‘step up’ in new role

the dairy shed

In terms of breeding direction, Tim says that, given that the farm has some steep terrain, the aim is to develop a smaller blacker cow, “I would say we’re about halfway through breeding in the qualities we want in this herd.”

He has also learnt the value of ensuring that systems are in place for all farm procedures, including how to cope with the unexpected.

“It’s always about writing systems down for staff in the milking shed. The time I’ve invested in creating these has been very worthwhile.

These check lists act as a constant reminder of what is good practice.”

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